I started writing this as a response to a reply in my previous post, but since this keeps coming up I thought I’d promote it.
It’s extremely unlikely that anything involving quantum information is necessary to explain human intelligence / behavior. It may be possible that our brains do somehow use quantum information processing, however I can’t see how you couldn’t replace that with a classical heuristic and still achieve more or less the same outcomes. So I think you can “cut and paste” everything that makes you you.
Generally I think that humans want to believe that our mental processes are more complex than they actually are–very much related to our desire for earth to be the center of the universe, humans to have dominion over other creatures (uhh… viruses? bacteria? hello?), for the Flying Spaghetti Monster to actually exist, etc. I really don’t think there is anything magical about our intelligence, and I really don’t think we need better hardware to create artificial general intelligences superior to humans in all categories we can name…. what we need is to figure out how to approach this problem from the systems/software/algorithmic perspective.
What I suspect will happen is that once we figure out how the algorithmic / systems issues work to create artificial general intelligence, we would be able to run these on modest modern hardware systems (my bet is that the computer you’re using to read this is more than sufficient).
Even though I believe that purely classical approaches can mimic human level intelligence, I think that including quantum computers into the mix does matter for people thinking about intelligent systems for a simple reason. Quantum computers provide scaling advantages for a wide class of hard AI problems which at their core are combinatorial optimization problems.
Here’s a simple argument: all evolved brains need to function based on processing classical information, because they require liquid water, which requires high temperatures. Therefore biological evolution can only produce classical brains. Now let’s assume that a biological brain gets smart enough to figure out how to build a quantum computer, and furthermore assume that the key component of intelligence (pattern matching) has algorithms that scale better on a quantum computer than any classical system. Then if those biological brains (a) figure out how their own brains work and (b) replace key bottleneck classical algorithms with quantum algorithms, the resultant quantum computing intelligence is now qualitatively different than anything that could have evolved.
That new intelligence could not have evolved biologically (requires milliKelvin temperatures) and is able to “think better” in the sense of having key algorithmic components underlying intelligence scaling better as problem sizes increase. No human (or any other biologically evolved entity) could match it’s “intelligence”.
Pretty cool huh.